As a researcher of all things cannabis for the last three years, I have to say, if there’s any other field that highlights the levels of inequality in this world more, I’ve yet to come across it! But why is that?
My personal opinion, a fundamental lack of education! An opinion that was recently shared in a conference of academics from Leeds and York universities, earlier this week at a meeting in York. They have stated that what they see is ‘inverted expertise’ because cannabis consumers have a better grasp of the market than they do.
However, this week, it hasn’t just been the academics telling the government they have no clue about how to treat cannabis in our communities! There has been a fifth police force in Gloucestershire say they will no longer tie up funds in chasing personal cannabis consumers.
This approach has been led by Durham constabulary’s Ron Hogg, who has spoken openly this week about legalising medical cannabis and leaving recreational users who are causing no bother, alone!
The policy of acting on complaints only is a very sensible approach to this political hot potato. And that’s the issue! It shouldn’t be! As the ‘academics’ point out, cannabis consumers have a far better grasp of this debate than they do. That’s because we look beyond the propaganda and as cliched as it sounds, we do our research! We have no option but to do so as after 100 years of prohibition, as the only way to learn about what’s going is by watching the markets!
Learning about cannabis, learning about its history, why its illegal, etc, opens up some very tricky paradigms for most to fully grasp. This isn’t a war on drugs and never has been! This is an economic agenda of a debt based economy founded on scarcity, perpetuated through various wars on people in favour corporate interests!
In my research and my time as an activist, I’ve learned that the vast chasm in our understanding of this plant is holding back a lot of progress. So, I will attempt to make this as concise and detailed as possible for a new comer to this subject.
There are primarily three different types of cannabis. Sativa, indica and ruderalis. Sativa is what most people would recognise as hemp. However, there are various pheno types of sativas and some will have you rocking. To break this down, all cannabis is hemp! All hemp is cannabis! There are just varying types through selective breeding processes to bring out varying characteristics and genetic traits. Just as there are varying genetic differences between say roses and tulips through selective breeding processes, there varying types of hemp.
The vast majority of activists have broken this field down in to three sectors. Medicinal, recreational and industrial, when in actual fact, there really need be only one! Industrial!
Industrialisation of medicinal and recreational strains opens up new options. Particularly for farmers should the UK decide to go for Brexit. With all of the subsidies they get from the EU to keep land fallow, they would be taking yet another hit on top of bumper harvest of strawberries driving their price down, or putting pressure on dairy farmers through pushing the price of milk ever further down.
Last week a UK Parliamentary committee, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), highlighted the threat to society and future food security if soils continue to be managed unsustainably. It calls for DEFRA to ensure that its upcoming 25-year environment plan puts soil protection at its heart. The report states that “we must move away from viewing soil merely as a growth medium and treat it as an ecosystem in its own right”, a view which lines up closely with the concerns of many farmers and campaigners in the UK and around the world.
At the same time, in Puglia Italy, hemp farming is taking hold in a big way for precisely the purpose of detoxifying and rebuilding soil through a process called phytoremediation and carbon sequestration. In Puglia, the steel works have polluted the lands for miles around. After discovering that hemp was being used to clean the lands of Chernobyl of pollutants, they thought they would give it a go as well. Planting started in 2011 and the results are speaking for themselves! More and more hectares have been planted year on year since, with almost 100 farmers involved across the region.
This should be of particular interest to farmers in the UK at present. As we all know, we have an antibiotics crisis. How many people know that cannabinoids are antibiotic though? For instance CBG (Cannabigerol) is found in hemp, at ratios of up to 94%, compared to recreational and medicinal strains which usually only contain around 10%. CBG, has been found to be so highly antibiotic, it even kills MRSA.
This will come in handy for this pesky antibiotics crisis (http://sustainablefoodtrust.org/articles/what-price-an-antibiotic/), that over 80 pharmaceuticals companies are trying to cash in on by asking global nations to stump up new financial frameworks to pay them up to $37 billion over the next ten years (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35363569), while the rest of us suffer under austerity measures. Meanwhile we read multiple stories about how big pharma engage in dodgy business practices and even dodgier drugs! We’ve all seen them! Even their ‘dealers’, aka Boots the chemists, have been found milking the NHS of much needed funds (https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/apr/13/boots-staff-under-pressure-to-milk-the-nhs-says-pharmacists-union?CMP=share_btn_fb), just like any other dealer in taking their skim.
I would say we’ve pretty much established that hemp, can and should fall in to the category of medicinal!! So who would you trust for your antibiotics? Big pharma or big farmer?
Now whereas we have the British press releasing scare stories of rampaging sheep on drugs (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/25/stoned-sheep-go-on-psychotic-rampage-after-eating-cannabis-plant/), farmers just across the channel in the Netherlands are going out of their way to feed their animals on the stuff (http://www.dutchdailynews.com/cows-eat-hemp/). Something the Americans have been doing for a while (http://www.globalhemp.com/2004/05/hemp-is-the-not-so-secret-ingredient-in-farmers-cow-feed.html). Hemp-fed cattle are antibiotic, steroid and hormone free, and apparently they taste better as well. Seeing as Americans also love their pork, the medicinal industry have been passing their waste over to pig farmers who report having healthier and heavier pigs (https://www.vice.com/read/marijuana-fed-pigs-are-happy-pigs). When you’re at this level of industry. medicinal, recreational and industrial become one and the same! And yet funnily enough, I’ve yet to come across any stories of drug crazed farm animals from any other countries.
Not only could farmers be replenishing and detoxifying their soils, they could be feeding their cattle, all from fallow lands, using a crop that acts as a natural weed killer, saving money on fertilisers and pesticides, while making one hell of a cash crop!
On the current American market, hemp is worth around $40,000 per acre (http://www.fibrealternatives.com/hemp%20is%20the%20ultimate%20cash%20crop_byWmConde.pdf). In the UK, apparently its only profitable to grow if you live within 200 miles of a processing plant (http://www.fwi.co.uk/community/topic/hemp-farming-in-the-uk-is-very-profitable-if-you-are-within-200-miles-of-suffolk/). Luckily, for us lot in the north where the first fracking licenses have been granted, there happens to be one in east Yorkshire at Beswick, near Brandesburton.
Nick Voase thought the processing plant was too far away so he brought it to him (http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/environment/east-yorkshire-farmer-grows-his-own-home-1-7420755) . There are currently 300 acres of hemp growing in Yorkshire, only 44 miles from Kirby Misperton. Each acre of hemp can produce anywhere from 300 to 1000 gallons of hemp oil which can be turned in to biodiesel. According to some studies in America, if only 6% of land was put to use for energy production with hemp, it would completely wipe out the need for fossil fuels; an industry that announced this week, it will lose 120,000 jobs by 2017 (https://www.rt.com/uk/346108-oil-crisis-job-loss/). Hemp and cannabis on the other hand, that industry added 200,000 jobs to the Coroado economy in its second year of inception. Back in the day of the likes of Henry Ford though, before alcohol prohibition led to the death hemp biodiesels (http://www.cannabisculture.com/content/2009/09/01/hemp-ethanol-will-only-cost-15-cents-liter-or-50-cents-gallon), hemp was the basis of all of his combustion engine fuel for 30 years!
So at $40k per acre and kicking out the frackers, its pretty much a win win situation. Add the antibiotics crisis to that, along with the medicinal and recreational strains on an industrial scale, the sky is pretty much the limit for farmers!
Its not like the funding for these manner of projects isn’t there. Seeing as the recent carbon capture project in Teesside recently had its £1bn of funding withdrawn (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/25/uk-cancels-pioneering-1bn-carbon-capture-and-storage-competition), a crop that sequesters 4.5 tons of carbon from the atmosphere and deposits large amounts in to our over worked soils, could be the best, and cheapest, solution!
This would also keep in line with government policy of building ‘the northern powerhouse’ (http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/economy/2016/01/conservatives-are-so-committed-northern-powerhouse-theyve-moved-it-london) on graphene (https://next.ft.com/content/d50af8b4-dbbe-11e5-98fd-06d75973fe09). At present we’re making it from coal that any government worker will know, has cost them £3500 from their pensions due to the collapse in the market (http://platformlondon.org/p-pressreleases/uk-local-council-pensions-lose-683-million-with-coal-crash/).
But thanks to some very intelligent people in America, we now know that graphene can be made from hemp at 1/1000th of the cost that its made from coal (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28770876).
So, you have a growing industry in medicinal and recreational cannabis which is predicted to be a $100 billion per industry by 2030 (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/marijuana-industry-expected-to-reach-44-billion-by-2020-a6933106.html). Which is pretty much chicken feed when you consider that a congressional research paper concluded that the hemp industry could be so big, they couldn’t feasibly put a figure on it (http://www.cheatsheet.com/business/calculating-the-enormous-potential-of-the-hemp-industry.html/?a=viewall).
If you work for the council, army, police, this is YOUR pension we’re talking about here being affected! Tell me, which industry would you rather your pension was invested in?
This is the major issue when it comes to cannabis! The real reason its demonised so much in the press, is because it threatens so many industries (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZE1sUwY_q0k)! Everything from fossil fuels to big pharma, timber, steel, cotton, all of the other industries that will be affected by its move in to the mainstream. How many of these industries and 1%-ers do you think want people knowing that every resource they could ever need, can be obtained from fields surrounding them? That’s why cannabis is divisive!
One resource, one crop, can completely change our industrial and cultural landscape! Britain was made on great in history by riding on the back of hemp! It can be again!
Unlike our football fans, English cannabis enthusiasts can go anywhere and mingle with people from all cultures and races. When was the last time you saw riots at Spannabis? How about Prague pot? Amsterdam even?
Educate, regulate, medicate!